For a Great Start to Sundays
The most popular type of syrup in North America is probably maple syrup. This syrup from the maple tree is usually poured over pancakes, waffles, French toast and sometimes sausages, and it is also used as an ingredient for baking and in desserts. In addition, maple syrup can be used as a sweetener in things such as apple sauce, baked beans, candied sweet potatoes, winter squash, cakes, pies, breads, fudge and other candy, milkshakes, tea and coffee.
Most maple syrup comes from Canada and northern states such as Vermont and New York.The Native American Indians taught the Colonists how to tap maple trees for their sap. They then boiled the sap down to what the natives called sweetwater. The maple tapping season, which can be called sugar season, usually begins sometime around mid February and it may last anywhere from about four to six weeks.
You get the sap from the maple tree by inserting spouts into them. You then hang pails below the spouts to catch the sap in. The sap is then taken to be boiled until it evaporates to the desired degree. To simplify things here, maple syrup is basically sap, which has been boiled until most of the water has evaporated until the remaining sap is thick and syrupy.
At the beginning of the tapping season, when the sap is concentrated, it takes about 20 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of maple syrup. Towards the end of the tapping season, it often takes up to 50 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. You can also make maple sugar, which is about twice as sweet as granulated white sugar, by continuing to boil the sap until the liquid has almost totally evaporated. In between those two stages, maple honey, which is thicker than syrup and maple cream or butter is produced.
Maple syrup is graded according to its color and flavor. U.S. maple syrup grades are generally:
- Grade A, which is a light, amber colored syrup that has a mild flavor;
- Grade A medium is the most popular, it is medium amber in color and mellow flavored
- Grade A dark is dark amber and hearty flavored
- Grade B maple syrup is very dark with a robust, molasses type of flavor to it.
Maple syrup can be quite expensive because of the methods used to produce it. There is also a less costly product on the market which is called maple flavored syrup. This syrup is a combination of syrup such as corn syrup and a small amount of pure maple syrup. Most pancake syrups on the market are basically corn syrups flavored with artificial maple extract. You should always refrigerate pure maple syrup after you open it, but warm it up to room temperature before serving it.